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Like how silicon washers in taps prevent water leaks, the 6.0 Powerstroke head gasket seals critical gaps. This is necessary for a vehicle’s engine to work efficiently.
As such, head gaskets rarely fail if the vehicle is serviced regularly and maintained properly.
They can even outlast a car, as this tough seal can usually last over 200,000 miles of usage.
But, do you know what they do? How to pick the right one? And what’s more important – whether it needs replacement?
We’re going to answer all these questions below.
Why Do you Need a Powerstroke Head Gasket?
As an essential seal, the head gasket handles several simultaneous functions. In the space connecting the engine block and cylinder heads, they:
- channel engine oil for lubrication;
- keep coolant flowing but apart from engine oil;
- contain burning fuel droplets;
- direct exhaust fumes.
If the head gasket weakens, an explosion can occur. Think of the very high pressure created by the combustion of the fuel-air mix in the engine.
The head gasket also ensures the engine doesn’t overheat.
This is done by keeping the coolant fluid – a green, blue, or pink-colored ethylene glycol with additives, flowing correctly.
It also prevents coolant from leaking into the engine oil.
Having to handle such extreme factors for extended periods, head gaskets need to be tough. So, they are made of metal like steel and copper.
The ‘softer’ parts completing the seal are also highly resistant to high heat.
These used to be asbestos. But they are now typically comprised of a rubbery substance called fluoroelastomer, or graphite.
Best 6.0 Powerstroke Head Gasket Reviews in 2021
01. MAHLE Original 54450A Head Gasket: Overall best quality 6.0 powerstroke gasket for 03-06
- Multi-layer steel machined
- Black diamond coated
- Smooth ring hole edges
Victor-Reinz is one of the top global suppliers of auto parts. This firm’s Mahle parts are among the crucial hidden secrets in most vehicle engines.
So, this unit is effectively a factory stock 6.0 Powerstroke head gasket replacement.
Precision machined to exactly 0.059-inch thickness, the overall weight is 1.32 pounds.
Moreover, this makes the Mahle Original head gasket seat precisely as per the manufacturer’s design specification.
It’s molded with smoothened edges around each ring hole.
Placement grooves and perfectly aligned dowel and bolt holes ensure a tight fit. So, there’s no slippage once it’s tightened into place.
For optimal performance, this head gasket is made of multi-layered steel with polymer coating.
This ensures no gas or fluid leakage between layers. Such a build allows for lower-force clamping to prevent bore distortion.
The black diamond coating provides extra strength to withstand high engine combustion pressures.
This also complements the graphite surface coating for superior insulation properties.
Conveniently, 18mm cylinder head dowels are included. Older factory-fit pieces are most likely worn out. So, they should also be replaced with the head gasket.
“The package doesn’t include head studs for better clamping performance to withstand engine combustion pressures. You have to reuse original factory bolts or buy separately.”
What We Liked
- Exact match to factory stock unit
- Polymer coated multi-layer steel assembly
- Comes with 18mm cylinder head dowels
- Withstands the weight of time
What We Didn’t Like
- Head studs not included
02. ARP 250-4202 Stud Kit
- 220,000 PSI tensile strength
- Aerospace quality 8740 alloy
- Black oxide finish
Head studs are far superior to head bolts when it comes to withstanding high engine combustion pressures.
That’s why ARP studs are the preferred choice for many race car engines.
Several features make ARP studs stand out. They’re made with 8740 nickel-chromium-molybdenum low alloys.
This material can often be found in aerospace parts, as it provides wear resistance, toughness, and strength.
Being heat-treated to 200,000 PSI provides better fatigue strength. This helps withstand extreme engine combustion conditions.
Threads are precision-formed with centerless grinding. As threading is rolled after heat treatment, they are toughened against compression strains.
Being manufactured to such exacting tolerances, these ARP studs literally glide into position. The black oxide finish makes it fit snugly into the 6.0 Powerstroke head gasket.
Its high concentricity provides higher mechanical strength and stress tolerance.
There’s no need to use a wrench. Hand-tightening is enough for a more consistent clamping force.
This is the main reason why head studs are better than capped bolts.
The latter has to be rotated to engage the threads and tightened with a wrench securely into place.
When pressure is exerted within the engine, the bolt experiences both twisting and vertical clamping forces.
In reaction to two different forces simultaneously, the bolt’s capacity gets slightly reduced. So, it ends up forming a less reliable seal.
“While a lube pack is included in this package, an extra jar may be needed for manual assembly of the head gasket.”
What We Liked
- Aerospace quality 8740 alloy
- Centerless thread grinding for fatigue strength
- Delivers exceptional durability
- Smoothly rotates into place
What We Didn’t Like
- Insufficient lube pack
03. FEL-PRO HS-9076PT-3 Head Gasket set
- Solid steel core
- Nonstick coating
- Elastomeric sealant
Tracing its history back to Ford Model-T manufacturing, Fel-Pro goes one step further in its supply of auto parts by tackling surface imperfections on critical engine parts.
This focus has led to several key features on this 6.0 Powerstroke head gasket set.
The solid steel core ensures durability to avoid warping under pressure.
It’s layered with graphite or reinforced fiber-facing material for extra strength, and armor-plating reinforces edges at cylinder openings.
This kit is designed specifically for replacements and repairs.
Used engines have lots of wear and tear, it creates an environment of imperfect sealing surfaces, unlike brand new engines.
A proprietary nonstick anti-friction coating seals such minor surface imperfections.
This covers scratches/roughness up to 80 Ra. The result is a smooth finish but retains enough friction to avoid slippage.
Elastomeric beads are applied around critical openings of coolant and oil ports. So no additional sealers are needed.
This head gasket is built to withstand the stresses of two surfaces expanding, shrinking, warping, and rubbing.
Coolant fluid and engine oil are channeled separately through casting ports. A complete seal ensures maximum compression and prevents leakages.
The package comes as a complete installation set with dowels, washers, and head studs.
“However, you’ll need to get a lube pack for fitting head studs during assembly.”
What We Liked
- Caters for minor surface imperfections
- Extra durability to avoid warping
- Comes with a smooth, durable finish
- Armor plating at cylinder openings
What We Didn’t Like
- Comes with no lube pack
When to Consider Buying a Powerstroke Head Gasket
If a tire gets punctured, it’s cheaper to simply fix the puncture. Then continue driving on it till it wears out.
You can’t do the same with a faulty head gasket. As a critical part of the engine, its failure can lead to the vehicle being a total write-off.
Still, there are some temporary fixes in the form of liquid head gasket sealants. Pour the fluid into the radiator, then run the vehicle for about half an hour.
The chemicals in the fluid will fit in cracks and gaps developed in the head gasket. The engine heat will cause these chemicals to harden as an interim fix.
This stopgap measure can last maybe a week or more with daily usage. But there’s no getting around replacing the faulty unit soonest.
Here’s what happens when the head gasket fails completely:
Coolant leaks out or mixes with the engine oil. Either way, cooling efficiency drops sharply.
You may even see smoke coming from below the bonnet or smoky exhaust. Even oil slicks form below the vehicle.
Engine Doesn’t Start
Low pressure causes combustion failure or rough idling.
Since a complete replacement is the only permanent cure, it’s time to look for a Ford 6.0 Powerstroke head gasket kit.
Treat every vehicle as being different, don’t just assume it will always be the same. Even the year a model is manufactured can be a significant factor.
A decent head gasket will always be made of metal. Reinforced multi-layered steel is recommended.
This critical seal has to be tough and not warp under high engine combustion pressure.
The material used for the ‘softer’ sealant part is also essential. Since it’s a health risk, it’s best to avoid asbestos linings.
It may still be used in some older designs but is being phased out.
The preferred material now is a form of synthetic rubber. Called elastomeric, like Viton, they can withstand extreme conditions.
Other Important Factors
- When replacing the head gasket, another critical component would be dowels. These are circular pegs to keep the seal tightly in place. These should be made of tough steel or equally durable materials.
- Go for head studs rather than sticking to capped bolts for fastening. Studs don’t twist during tightening. They can be screwed in using hand strength alone. Bolts need to be tightened using wrenches, exerting extra clamping force.
- When under pressure, bolts experience both vertical and twisting forces. Studs stretch in one axis alone, providing a more even clamping force.
- Original equipment manufactured replacements for a faulty head gasket may seem to be a cheaper option. But a Ford 6.0 Powerstroke head gasket kit isn’t costly. So go for a premium head gasket always.
- Remember that a suitable head gasket should last 200,000 miles of usage. This is far more than a typical vehicle’s lifespan. Only a reputable manufacturer can offer this form of extended warranty.
How to Install a Powerstroke Head Gasket
The 6.0 Powerstroke head gasket replacement cost is high mainly because of labor charges.
It can take around 6 hours to complete the entire installation process. But it’s possible to DIY this installation. Just be prepared to be digging into the vehicle’s guts.
- Rust-removal spray
- Gloves (for better grip and to keep hands clean)
- Lots of patience, plus snacks and drinks
For obvious reasons, make sure the vehicle is turned off and the key removed. Ensure the handbrake is fully applied to keep the car immobile.
Wait 2-3 hours for the engine compartment to completely cool down. Then pop the hood – it’s time to make your way towards the engine.
The head gasket is buried deep. It is necessary to first disassemble all the outer housing and components.
This process alone can take an hour or two, as each component has to be done in proper sequence. Take care to avoid causing unnecessary damage.
How the components should be tackled one-by-one is illustrated in this video:
Note that most tutorials advise for the front cab to be lifted off. This gives easier access to engine parts.
- Remove the Head Gasket
When the engine is in clear sight, wipe off the grime and dirt before removing its cover.
This avoids any foreign matter falling into the engine. Why risk damaging susceptible cylinders moving at high speeds later?
Once the cover is removed, use the wrench to unscrew the fastening capped bolts.
Before lifting off the faulty head gasket, remove the dowels or cylindrical rods. This will also cause engine oil and coolant to spill and have a rag ready to catch drips.
The following video gives a step-by-step process on how to handle this task:
- Install New Head Gasket
Before installing the new gasket, the open engine surface needs to be cleaned of corrosion and bumps. The new head gasket should be flush against the surface for a complete seal.
Follow the marked instructions to place the head gasket in the proper alignment. This is when sequencing becomes especially important. Fitting the dowels and head studs in the correct order ensures even clamping pressure.
For a guide on how this done, the process is illustrated in this video:
- Put Back Final Bits
Fitting back all the component parts should be in the reverse order of how they were removed.
This process can take an hour or so. Again, this process needs to be done right. T
ake care to fit everything back the way they’re supposed to. Take a break if you need to before this final stage.
The 6.0 Powerstroke head gasket labor time for a total replacement could be over a day at a workshop.
If driven there, the engine cooling time has to be factored in. So, this DIY effort has saved you both time and cost!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I prevent damage to the 6.0 Powerstroke head gasket?
Making sure the engine cooling systems work correctly. These include checking:
- There’s always enough coolant fluid
- The radiator is working efficiently
- Front engine fans turn on when engine is idling
- Thermostat if operating correctly
Conduct these checks weekly if possible. Service your vehicle regularly for more thorough inspections.
How can I tell if a head gasket is faulty?
The most apparent telltale symptom is an overheating engine. This is because cooling systems aren’t working properly.
If this is ignored, the problem worsens with the smoky exhaust or rough engine sound during idling. There may also be white or bluish smoke rising from the bonnet.
Will the problem disappear if I turn off the engine to cool it?
No, the symptoms will reappear when the engine is restarted.
A damaged head gasket means the seal is no longer complete. Cooling the engine won’t restore the seal. The only permanent fix is to replace the faulty unit.
Will an engine overheat damage the head gasket?
Seek advice at the workshop where the radiator leak was fixed. If this was a DIY leak fix, it would be a good idea to consult at a nearby workshop – just in case.
Are oil puddles signs of a faulty head gasket?
The oil slick could be from a hole in a hose, or some other component could be leaking. If you can’t trace the source of the leak, get the vehicle checked in a workshop.
A head gasket doesn’t usually fail easily unless it has been poorly abused with an overheated or over-pressurized engine.
When it does so, without any other apparent reason, this would most likely be due to a design or manufacturing flaw.
Does low-octane fuel affect the head gasket?
Yes, it definitely will. There will be some pinging sounds when fuels with octane levels are lower than the engine’s recommended.
This causes excessive pressure build-up and can damage the head gasket.
With alternate, greener fuels being offered these days, it can be tempting to switch to these biofuels.
But before doing so, check if these fuels meet the vehicle manufacturer’s requirement. This helps avoid paying for expensive repairs later.
Conclusion of 6.0 Powerstroke Head Gasket
Taking extra care after the 6.0 Powerstroke head gasket replacement will pay off with a long lifespan for the engine.
This involves just regular servicing with filter and oil changes as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Pay attention to water and oil levels. Checking every fortnight also keeps the vehicle in tiptop running condition.
So if you fail to care for your ride, who’s to blame if it fails you?